Four Things I Learned About Branding from Working in the TV Industry


By: Emily Pirt, National/Committee Liaison

As young professionals, we’re still trying to develop our own personal brands before we head off into the real world. However, figuring out your brand is more complex than just spitting out your name, major, college and fun fact. You’ve listened to speakers, read professional development books and went to see the career advisor waaaay more times than you’re willing to admit – and you’re still stuck.

Don’t worry – we’ve all been there. Admittedly, this is an issue I still struggle with. But branding isn’t just something young professionals wrestle with; TV networks do it, too!discovery-channel-wallpaper-hd

This summer I’ve been interning with Discovery Communications’ five Emerging Networks: Destination America, American Heroes Channel, Investigation Discovery, Discovery Family and Discovery Life. The Emerging Nets, as we affectionately call them, are the newer channels to the Discovery line-up and have gone through their fair share of brand “soul searching.”

I think there’s a lot to be learned about how we can develop our own personal brands by taking a few pages out of the Emerging Nets handbook. Here are four things I learned about branding from my summer working in the television industry.

1. Don’t be afraid of change.

It’s never too late to recreate yourself. Whether you’re a PR veteran or a PR newbie, feel free to tweak and refine your brand as you go along. Just because you still remember your “Success in the City” elevator pitch from sophomore year does not mean that you have to use that one for the rest of your life! Be able to adapt your pitch to fit your updated resume and experiences.

TV is a fast-paced and ever-changing industry. Just look at the Emerging Nets; every single one of those established networks had a totally different name and direction at one point. A few tweaks, a name change and a rebrand later, and they have grown into the channels we know and love today. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Give the people what they want.

Think of who you’re going to be presenting your brand to, and tweak it accordingly. Choose which parts of your résumé you want to highlight, and make sure to incorporate them. By tailoring what you’re presenting to the situation you’re in, you avoid sounding robotic and impersonal. Do your research beforehand so that you can get a sense of what the recruiter might be looking for in a candidate, and make sure to highlight that in your pitch.

Knowing your audience is really important with TV networks, too. While the Emerging Nets might be relatively new to the TV scene, they prove that they can compete with the bigger networks by taking the time to understand their core audience. Using their key demographic as a guide, each network has a developed a different recipe for success. For American Heroes Channel, it’s a healthy mix of WWII specials, cowboys and American history; for Discovery Family, it’s a combo of cute animals and cartoons; for Discovery Life, it’s emergency medical shows. Know what your audience wants, and give it to them!

3. Let your differences define you (because that’s what makes you awesome!).

While you should try and highlight ways that your brand will complement the company, you should lead with your differences. After all, your brand is supposed to tell others (i.e. employers, colleagues and peers) what differentiates you from the6999960 rest of the crowd. Do you have a unique hobby, experience or skill? Find a way to incorporate it! Make yourself memorable.

Investigation Discovery found what made it different from the competition by tapping into a well-liked, yet niche, genre. Discovery realized that people loved shows like Law and Order and CSI, but there was no one-stop-shop for murder, mystery and crime programming. Since launching in 2008, ID has become a top-ten network in the country for women viewers and has a strong fan following of self-proclaimed #IDAddicts. Find what makes you different, and run with it.

4. Be predictable.

Henry Schleiff, the Group President for Discovery’s Emerging Nets, once compared each of the five emerging network brands to a diner that’s open 24/7. You know you can go there any day, at any hour, and know exactly what you’re going to get.

I think that comparison is great because it encapsulates exactly what you should strive for when developing your brand. Predictability doesn’t equate to boring; predictability means that you expect a certain level of quality each time you interact with that brand. Your brand will set the stage for what your employers can expect from you as an employee.

Image credits:,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s